Pictured L-R: Pamela McFarland and Norman Derek Robbins during their wedding in the MICU
It was four days before her wedding, and Pamela McFarland was at her church, rehearsing for the big day. But as she made her way down the aisle, she knew something was wrong. Short of breath and laboring with each step, Pamela was completely out of breath by the time she made it to the front of the church. She could hardly breathe, so she immediately went to the Emergency Department at Parkridge Medical Center.
Pamela was admitted to the hospital for a lung infection. She wouldn’t make it to the church for her big day. But thanks to the nurses in the Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU) at Parkridge Medical Center, Pamela and her fiancée, Norman Derek Robbins, would not have to delay the ceremony. “God Put Us Together”
Two years prior, Pamela met Derek for the first time at her church. It would be another year before they were formally introduced, but from the moment she saw him, she knew he would be an important figure in her life.
“One day, I passed him in the hall, and my spirit said, ‘he’s going to be your husband,’” she recalled.
They were a perfect match. The couple enjoyed watching basketball together and going to the movies.
“God put her with me and me with her,” Norman Derek said. “We built a solid foundation – something we know will last.”
Their solid foundation was tested quickly and proved to be a blessing for both, as Pamela was admitted to Parkridge Medical Center for three weeks in May 2019 due to pneumonia.
Pamela has interstitial lung disease, a name given to a group of disorders that cause scarring of the lungs and make it difficult to breath. The condition is treatable but irreversible.
Returning to the hospital less than one month after being discharged for pneumonia and only days away from her wedding was disheartening. But providers in the MICU remembered Pamela and her wedding plans from her previous visit. They suggested that she not cancel the wedding, but instead change the location.
Wedding in the MICU
Pictured L-R: Leslie McBride, RN, director of Critical Care at Parkridge Medical Center; Beth Shipley, patient care technician; Ruby Tinney, RN, BSN; Bonnie Phillips, RN; and Mindy Zychal, RN, BSN, nurse manager
MICU patient care tech Beth Shipley and nurses Bonnie Phillips, RN; Ruby Tinney, RN, BSN; Mindy Zychal, RN, BSN, nurse manager of the MICU; Leslie McBride, RN, director of Critical Care; along with Sibaji Shome, MD, a hospitalist at Parkridge Health, transformed Pamela’s MICU room into a wedding chapel.
“As medical providers, we are trained to pay close attention to physical health, but it’s important to treat the body and the spirit,” Dr. Shome said. “This was a special day for Pamela and Norman Derek, and it was also special for us in the MICU. We are so happy to have been part of such a beautiful event.”
The providers stayed after their shift the night before to decorate the room with garlands of purple and white silk flowers. The day of the wedding, they arranged Pamela’s hospital bed to approximate her position as it would have been at the church and presented the couple with bride’s and groom’s cakes. Bonnie Phillips did Pamela’s makeup.
At 3:00pm, Sunday, June 9, family and friends gathered in MICU room 10 to witness Pamela and Norman Derek exchange vows. Although the ceremony was held in the Critical Care Unit, the setting did not betray the celebratory mood.
“I’m impressed by the way the nurses and physicians give you their time here,” Pamela said. “It’s very special, and I know it’s genuine because I never asked anyone to do something like this for me.”
“You plan your life to go one way, and then a storm blows in, and it goes in another direction,” Norman Derek added. “What they did was breathtaking, and I appreciate all who participated. This meant a lot to us, and I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”